US energy giant ExxonMobil said on February 28 that it has made an offshore natural gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus at the Glaucus-1 well.

The Well is located in offshore Block 10 southwest of Cypriot coast. Exxon said further evaluation of the Block’s potential will continue.

Based on the preliminary interpretation of the well’s data, the discovery could represent an in-place natural gas resource of approximately 142 billion to 227 billion cubic metres, Exxon said in a press release, adding that further analysis in the coming months will be required to better determine the resource potential.

“These are encouraging results in the frontier exploration area,” ExxonMobil Exploration Company President Steve Greenlee was quoted as saying in the press release. “The potential for this newly discovered resource to serve as an energy source for regional and global markets will be evaluated further,” he added.

“This is the biggest find, so far, in Cyprus and based on some official data it is one of the biggest finds worldwide in the past two years,” Reuters quoted Cypriot Energy Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis as saying.

According to Exxon, the well encountered a gas-bearing reservoir of approximately 436 133 metres. The well was safely drilled to 4,200 metres depth in 2,063 metres of water.

Glaucus-1 was the second of a two-well drilling programme at Block 10. The first well, Delphyne-1, did not encounter commercial quantities of hydrocarbons – Block 10 is 2,572 square kilometres. ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Cyprus (Offshore) is the operator and holds a 60% interest in the block.

Qatar Petroleum International Upstream holds 40% interest.

Cyprus Natural Hydrocarbons Company CEO Charles Ellinas told New Europe on March 1 said the discovery of Glaucus-1 well is a game-changer for the region in that it is a very significant discovery and it involves ExxonMobil, a company with the capabilities to take such a project forward.

“It is also the biggest gas discovery worldwide so far in 2019 and it confirms how prolific gas prospects are in the East Med. The significance of these results is that ExxonMobil is now likely to continue its exploration programme, with more drilling, possibly next year,” Ellinas said, predicting that it may even extend interest to adjacent blocks in cooperation with the incumbents, Italian energy major ENI and France’s Total.

According to Ellinas, ExxonMobil’s stated interest is the discovery of gas quantities that justify the development of a greenfield liquefaction facility in Cyprus for export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), depending of course on financial viability.

Asked if it would make plans for the EastMed gas pipeline that aspires to transport gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields to Greece and onto Italy more viable, Ellinas, added, “No it does not. The challenge for the East Med is cost, not quantities of gas. Gas prices in Europe are low, now below $6 per mmbtu (million British Thermal Units) and will stay low. There is no way the East Med gas pipeline can compete with such prices. It remains a political project,” Ellinas said.

Asked if he expects a strong reaction from Turkey, given the geopolitical significance, Ellinas concluded, “Turkey will not react directly to this. It is not disputing Block 10 or even Block 11. But it is threatening to drill south of Cyprus in the near future, something that will dramatically escalate tensions in the region.”